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Research project: Improving the symptom experience of patients with lung cancer receiving radiotherapy. - Dormant - Dormant

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This study aims to explore the use of a mobile phone based, remote monitoring Advanced Symptom Management System for people with lung cancer receiving radiotherapy (ASyMS©-R), to monitor and manage radiotherapy related symptoms. Many people receive radiotherapy for lung cancer and experience unpleasant and distressing side effects which can impact on their quality of life. The majority of radiotherapy is given as an outpatient therefore patients are often required to manage the side effects they encounter at home without much direct supervision from health professionals. Currently in the UK there is no standard way to assess the symptoms patients experience during the course of receiving radiotherapy for lung cancer.

Forty five people will be recruited to use ASyMS©-R to report their symptoms and then receive an instant message back on the mobile phone with advice on how to manage these symptoms that they have just reported. Symptom reports will be sent via a secure, wireless connection to a central server to be viewed on a secure web page by health professionals at the hospital. These reports can also be viewed by the patient on the phone as graphs, showing the pattern of symptoms over time. If symptoms are severe, a nurse is paged to contact the person to offer advice and support.

Evaluation of the system will explore from a patient and professional perspective their perceptions and experiences of using the system. These data will be used to inform further development and modification of the system. In addition, through working with a number of different radiotherapy centres we will enable the development of a standardised method to capture the symptoms that people with lung cancer experience when receiving radiotherapy.

It is estimated that of those patients with lung cancer who access treatment up to 70% will receive radiotherapy with either radical or palliative intent. In the UK no standard assessment tool exists for this patient population therefore it’s likely that symptom management is sub-optimal. The majority of patients receive radiotherapy on an outpatient basis, limiting the opportunity for support from healthcare professionals. Innovative IT systems offer a solution to enable the remote monitoring of patients’ symptoms in the home care setting and ensure early intervention when appropriate (Kearney et al, 2005).

This exploratory study will develop a mobile phone based, remote monitoring Advanced Symptom Management system for the management of symptoms in patients with lung cancer receiving radiotherapy (ASyMS©-R), assessing its feasibility and acceptability in clinical practice. The development follows successful pilot studies using this technology in adults receiving chemotherapy, teenagers with cancer and in palliative care (Maguire et al, 2005; Kearney et al, 2006; Gibson et al, 2007). It will facilitate the assessment and remote monitoring of symptoms and provide patients with tailored self care advice on their reported symptoms. An integrated risk model will initiate alerts to health professionals of clinically significant symptoms and provide access to a secure webpage to view patients’ symptom reports to inform interventions.

45 patients with lung cancer receiving at least five fractions of radiotherapy will be recruited from four UK sites. They will use the mobile phone system daily during and one month post treatment, to record their symptoms and receive self care advice. Patient and health professional perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of the system will be assessed using questionnaires and in-depth interviews at the beginning and end the study focussing on methods of symptom assessment, data transfer, generation and management of alerts, strategies used for the self management of symptoms and aspects of patient safety and quality.

Project team

Professor Alison Richardson

Professor Nora Kearney University of Dundee Dr Roma Maguire,
Dr Muhammed Rizwanullah

Project funder

National Cancer Research Institute through Marie Curie Cancer Care

Associated research themes

Symptom management
Lung cancer

Related research groups

Complex Healthcare Processes
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